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By Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi
The Times 

The Art of Aging (Ha!)


February 2, 2023

To quote my late aunt, “The Golden Years aren’t really golden; in fact, they suck!”

She had become a little forgetful when playing her weekly bridge game and had hearing loss, but she refused to wear her hearing aids. She had a single mastectomy, and the prosthetic breast was heavy and uncomfortable. She had a removable bridge, which she frequently forgot to put in her mouth. The bottom line, she was uncomfortable at family dinners and couldn’t hear or chew. So, yeah, it did suck for her.

I am lucky that all my body parts are mine, aside from a few caps on some molars. Other than my recently broken wrist, my hips, knees, and joints are in good shape. After the wrist healed, I started to feel like Wonder Woman until I realized I had become addicted to Advil and maybe not as wonderful as I thought.

I am now part of a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning tennis group in Walla Walla. On Mondays, I play with the 9:00 a.m. group until 10:30, then move to another court where I play with another group until noon. I have at least one game with my Waitsburg tennis buddy on the weekend, with games with a Whitman tennis team member a few days a week. Both players run me around to exhaustion, but I’m stubborn, and we don’t stop until they “cry uncle” first.

Add in my workouts on the Mirror, a night of swing dancing at American 35, and occasionally a little house cleaning; I deserve those Advil. Thankfully, I have a few months’ reprieve from gardening, or I will have to double the dose.

I am not sure if I am just crazy or have a subconscious need to prove my golden years don’t have to suck. Either way, I will try to age artfully, if not gracefully. Have you seen me with a cast, splint, in stitches, or splayed out in the middle of the street having slipped on ice? I don’t think “gracefully” is in my future. I’m just trying to avoid joint replacements and casts and keep my brain operating as best as possible.

Recently my sister observed that most people start having difficulty with hiking, traveling, and a myriad of other physically taxing activities around 80 years of age. As she approaches that magical age, she has decided to take more physically demanding trips and booked a bucket list trip to Iceland.

Maybe she has a point, but I am not ready to add more demands to my travels. I plan to save extra money for tipping bellhops, doormen, airport attendants, and others who can do the heavy luggage lifting and carting. Although Daniel is still good at heavy lifting, he needs shoulder surgery and two new knees. So, tipping it is, or I’ll wind up lifting both our luggage into the overhead compartments and down the hotel corridors.

With age, my aunt became a bit quirky about nice things. Maybe as a result of living through the depression. It was difficult for her to use the beautiful nightgowns we bought her. She was “saving them for the right occasion.” We teased her that at 85 years old, it was probably futile to wait for the right guy, but she persisted. I have the opposite mentality. I plan to use everything, and when I’m well into my late nineties, I may consider not buying a whole case of tennis balls. Until then, serve ‘em up!


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